Best of our wild blogs: 18 Nov 15

Third time’s the charm: Lizards, Colugos and Birds galore @ Lower Peirce
Herpetological Society of Singapore

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Algae turns Marina Bay waters green; sun and rain may have caused bloom

Olivia Ho and Gabrielle Andres, Straits Times AsiaOne 18 Nov 15;

SINGAPORE - A thick layer of algae turned the waters of Marina Bay outside the Fullerton Bay Hotel, NTUC Centre and the Promontory @ Marina Bay a rich emerald green on Tuesday (Nov 17).

Experts said a combination of hot sun and heavy rain might have caused the widespread bloom.

Dr Patrick Martin, Nanyang Technological University Earth Observatory of Singapore research fellow, said: "The heavy rain over the past couple of weeks might have caused more nutrient run-off from land, which is fuelling the bloom."


The algae bloom could have been caused by an accumulation of nutrients in the bay, washed in from rivers that drain into it, such as the Kallang River, said Mr Chan Wei Loong, programme chair of Republic Polytechnic's marine science and aquaculture diploma.

"As the weather was recently very warm, the hot sun could have caused the algae to bloom," he noted.

He said further tests would be needed to ascertain the exact cause.

"If the algae bloom continues, it could clog the gills of fish in the water and cause fish deaths. But we have seen no dead fish floating yet, so that's good," he added.

PUB said algae growth was "naturally present" in Singapore's waterways and it moves up to the water surface at night to be ready for photosynthesis at sunrise. "This is why algae are usually more visible from the early morning to the mid-afternoon."

This is not the first time algae is seen in the area.

Last month, a reader wrote in to citizen journalism site Stomp with a picture showing a similar occurrence in Marina Bay. According to the Stomp report, algae growth may be a result of high levels of carbon dioxide in the air and water.

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Sunny outlook for Pulau Ubin clean energy pilot programme

A clean energy pilot programme at Pulau Ubin is now into its second phase. The Energy Market Authority has awarded S$5 million to two projects.
Chan Luo Er Channel NewsAsia 17 Nov 15;

SINGAPORE: A clean energy pilot programme at Pulau Ubin is now into its second phase, and the Energy Market Authority has awarded S$5 million to two projects.

ATEN Pte Ltd and Power Automation Pte Ltd will test energy storage and Berkeley Education Alliance for Research in Singapore (BEARS) will carry out real-time monitoring of the micro-grid’s performance.

They will leverage the existing micro-grid's infrastructure to better understand how energy can be stored in Singapore's hot and humid environment, as well as develop a sensor system which can monitor the micro-grid's performance in real-time.

Residents and businesses on Pulau Ubin do not draw electricity from Singapore's main power grid, as laying transmission cables from the mainland is an expensive endeavour due to the low demand. Instead, they rely on diesel power generators.

Some tasks would be more labour-intensive without electricity, such as cleaning bicycles.

Comfort Bicycle Rental and Trading, a bicycle shop on Pulau Ubin, used to rely on its own diesel-powered generator. However, the generator broke down three to four times a year, and it cost between S$300 and S$400 to fix.

Two years after coming on board the pilot programme, the shop said it no longer worries about a power outage, and has also seen a more than 50 per cent decrease in its electricity bill.

Previously, Ms Koh Bee Choo, the manager of the shop, paid S$810 a month to run her own generator. This includes the cost of diesel and the cost of chartering a ferry to bring it over to the island. Ms Koh now pays about S$300 a month for electricity.

“It's very stable now. We've got no problems so we are very happy about it. It is so convenient to have electricity running for 24 hours. We don't worry about the generator, repair or any maintenance,” said Ms Koh.

A major user of electricity on the island is the Pulau Ubin Fo Shan Ting Da Bo Gong Temple, which thousands of devotees visit each year. It requires its lights to be switched on 24 hours a day, and it also requires power for electronic devices.

While its electricity bill has not gone down much as it used to share a generator with other residents, the temple said the biggest benefit of being part of the test bed is the silence it affords.

“Last time, we used the generator. So when it’s switched on at night, the sound can be quite loud,” said Mdm Doreen Lim Woon Chern, the temple's community secretary.

“At the beginning, there were some very, very minor problems. Sometimes there would be power trips or a black out, but that happened in the beginning and it was resolved very fast.”


Phase Two will look at at how the energy can be better stored. Currently, lead batteries are used as they are a reliable option. But one company is testing a battery which will generate a smaller carbon footprint.

Three different types of batteries – Sodium-ion, Lithium-ion and Zinc–air – will be tested. ATEN said it is looking to pinpoint one that will better withstand Singapore's humidity and with a higher efficiency rate.

Said ATEN Executive Director Stanley Seah: “It may take less time to charge up the battery instead of the conventional type, and also, (with) the space it uses, you can store more batteries (compared with) the usual type."

ATEN said Government test beds have another benefit. It allows small- and medium-sized enterprises, like them, the opportunity to test systems which they do not have the resources for.


Another aspect of the pilot programme looks into the monitoring of the grid.

The micro-grid's electricity distribution points also houses sensors which monitors the grid. As part of phase two, new sensors have been added, while squares will act as antennas to transmit information to the mainland.

Currently, the grid can only be monitored on the island itself.

By mid-2016, all enhancements to the micro-grid will be made and a review of the results of Phase Two is expected by end 2017.

- CNA/dl

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Malaysia: Johor to study effects of banning polystyrene containers

ZAZALI MUSA The Star 18 Nov 15;

JOHOR BARU: The state government will carry out an in-depth study before banning the use of polystyrene containers, which have been blamed for clogging up drains and rivers and even becoming mosquito-breeding grounds.

State Health and Environment Committee chairman Datuk Ayub Rahmat said the matter would be brought up during the Johor Green Technology Council meeting early next year.

He said this was a delicate issue as the state authorities and agencies needed to address several issues before implementing the ban.

“The use of polystyrene containers will be stopped once we iron out matters over its implementation,” Ayub said in an interview here yesterday.

Several local councils in Selangor and the Malacca government had earlier this year banned the use of polystyrene containers for food.

While banning such containers would be good for the environment, Ayub said at the same time, the authorities needed to look into other factors.

The main issue now, he said, was that there were not many manufacturers in the country producing biodegradable containers from plant-based materials such as oil palm, tapioca, corn and sugarcane.

“Cost is the problem as food operators will have to fork out extra money if they were to switch to biodegradable containers,” he said.

Any decision, said Ayub, would have to be a win-win situation for both operators and customers, adding that the price of takeaways should not increase.

For instance, customers might not be happy if they were charged an extra 50 sen for taking away food in biodegradable containers.

“It is still a long way to go before our society can accept biodegradable containers but we have to start somewhere.

“Right now, we want to encourage food operators to gradually switch to biodegradable containers.

“Maybe we can start by encouraging customers to bring their own tiffin carriers or containers for takeaways.

“Food operators should charge less for customers who bring their own containers,” he said.

Polystyrene, which does not break down naturally, can remain an environmental hazard for hundreds of years, clogging up drains and rivers.

Those that collect water also end up becoming breeding grounds for mosquitoes.

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Malaysia: Govt combs jungles for surviving Sumatran rhinos

NURADZIMMAH DAIM New Straits Times 17 Nov 15;

KUALA LUMPUR: The government is carrying out surveys in Malaysian forests in the hopes of finding more Sumatran rhinoceroses, the Dewan Rakyat was told today.

Deputy Natural Resources and Environment Minister Datuk Hamim Samuri said there was currently only a pair left in Sabah.

"The female was reported sick with a type of cancerous disease, while the male is already old.

As for the peninsular, there is none left.

We are carrying out surveys including with the use of cameras installed in our forests to verify this.

The survey, which is also carried out on other species is to enable the Wildlife Department to gather data on the status of the animals and plan conservation operations.

We also encourage inventory-making by non-governmental organisation (NGOs),” he said.

Hamim added that the ministry, through the Wildlife Department is carrying out efforts to conserve animals that are facing extinction due to deforestation for development purposes.

The effort - known as Wildlife Rescue Plan was established to plan, manage and monitor the rescue efforts.

"The Central Forest Spine project was also established to form a connected forest network and reduce deforestation," he said in reply to a question by Che Rosli Che Mat (Pas-Hulu Langat).

It was reported that the rare species is now facing extinction following a report by Oryx, an international scientific journal on conservation.

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Malaysia: Over 350 displaced after flash floods in Selangor

WANI MUTHIAH The Star 17 Nov 15;

KLANG: Several areas in Selangor were hit by flash floods after a heavy downpour on Tuesday, displacing at least 365 victims.

The victims were relocated to seven relief centres throughout the state.

The Federal Highway towards Klang was a big mess as Sungai Rasau broke its banks and flowed towards Batu Tiga.

The nearby Jalan Padang Jawa was also flooded after the water level rose to almost half a metre.

The Batu Tiga commuter station had to cease operations for an hour at 4.45pm after floodwaters submerged the tracks.

Bandar Puncak Alam, which was inundated after a heavy downpour on Sunday, once again suffered the same fate.

State Fire and Rescue Department assistant director (operations) Mohd Sani Harul said the two relief centres in Puncak Alam were still operational.

"The two temporary relief centres at Surau Al-Taufiqiyah and Balai Raya Kampung Bukit Cerakah are sheltering about 156 victims," he said.

He said other areas badly affected were Bestari Jaya, Jeram and Sepang.

"The relief centres in Sepang, Surau Lembah Paya and Balai Raya Kampung Ampar Tenang have 61 people," he added.

Surau Kampung Sentosa in Tuan Mee Estate, which is in Bestari Jaya, received 49 victims while two centres in Jeram, Dewan Al-Falah in Bukit Hijau and SK Bukit Kerayong received 99 victims.

"In Sepang, two relief centres at Surau Lembah Paya and Balai Raya Kampung Ampar Tenang have 61 victims," said Mohd Sani.

He said all flood-prone areas in the state are on high alert and are being closely monitored.

Flash floods hit Subang, Shah Alam for second day running
PRIYA MENON The Star 17 Nov 15;

SHAH ALAM: Floods hit several areas in Shah Alam and Subang for the second time in two days.

Section 13 and 9 in Shah Alam is flooded again following a heavy downpour at 3.30pm Tuesday.

Both these places were affected on Monday, with many cars partially submerged after a two-hour downpour.

Traffic is slow-moving along Persiaran Sukan, while cars are backed up near the Bukit Jelutong intersection.

The old Subang clock tower along Federal Highway is also flooded causing congestion along the old Subang airport road near Citta Mall.

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Indonesia: After prolonged haze issues, Riau faces floods as rains begin

Rizal Harahap, The Jakarta Post 17 Nov 15;

Riau is now free of haze after continuous downpours for almost two weeks, but floods are looming along with the approaching rainy season. Pekanbaru Meteorology, Climatology and Geophysics Agency (BMKG) head Sugarin said the rainy season in Riau would last until the end of the year.

“In general, the weather in Riau is bright and cloudy. Potential light and heavy rain, followed by lightning and strong wind, taking place at noon, in the afternoon and evening, could occur in large parts of Riau,” Sugarin said on Monday.

According to him, high intensity rain had been helpful in dousing hot spots and reducing haze in the province. “Riau has been free of haze and hot spots in the past week and visibility in several regions is also good, reaching up to 8 kilometers,” he said.

“Hot spots were still found in other provinces in Sumatra as of Monday morning, when 11 hot spots were detected — nine in South Sumatra, one in Lampung and one in Bangka Belitung. We hope the conditions in Riau would remain favorable, as the downpours have diminished the potential for land and forest fires,” added Sugarin.

Last month, the Riau Health Agency recorded that up to 54,135 people in the province had experienced haze-related health issues.

Earlier, the National Disaster Management Agency (BNPB) said 10 people had died in Sumatra and Kalimantan due to smog from forest and land fires, which included those killed in operations to extinguish the fires and victims of acute respiratory infections.

In spite of that, Sugarin said, high rainfall ahead of the end of the year could trigger other disasters in Riau.

“The high rainfall could trigger floods and landslides, so we urge every region to be prepared and anticipate the situation,” he added.

Riau Disaster Mitigation Agency (BPBD) head Edwar Sanger said he had received the early warning and had taken anticipatory steps. “We have mapped out the regions prone to disasters,” said Edwar.

He said the areas most prone to flooding were Rokan Hulu, Kampar, Pelalawan and Kuantan Sengingi regencies and Pekanbaru city.

“Although the volume of rainfall is predicted to be lower than last year, Riau BPBD personnel, together with those from the regency and city BPBD offices, are already on standby at locations hit by floods in the past several years. We have prepared everything before the rainy season arrives,” said Edwar.

The landslide-prone areas in Riau are generally situated along the slopes of the Bukit Barisan mountain range on the border between West Sumatra and North Sumatra.

“We have positioned heavy machinery in Kampar, Rokan Hilir and Rokan Hulu regencies, so it can be deployed in the event of a landslide to help with evacuations and to clear roads,” said Edwar.

“Although we must anticipate the floods, the Riau BPBD will continue to monitor the development of hot spots in Riau. Two helicopters are on standby at the Roesmin Nurjadin Airbase in Pekanbaru to extinguish land and forest fires. The rainy season will not be as long as the dry season, which will arrive in January next year and the potential for fires is very big,” added Edwar.

Separately, Riau Social Office head Syarifudin AR also claimed he had made preparations to face the rainy season, such as stocking up on non-perishable food like canned fish and instant noodles as well as equipment such as rubber dinghies and emergency tents.

“Everything regarding relief aid, equipment and personnel has been prepared. According to its authority, the Social Office is tasked with handling evacuations and public kitchens at disaster locations, while the other tasks are under the authority of the BPBD and Health Office,” said Syarifudin.

Flooding hits Jakarta after long dry season
Indra Budiari, The Jakarta Post 17 Nov 15;

After a long dry season, the first floods of the rainy season hit Jakarta on Monday, submerging a number of densely populated areas in the capital, including Rawajati in South Jakarta and Kampung Melayu in East Jakarta.

“There was no rain at all on Sunday. Yet, in the evening, I received a warning that my house would be inundated by floodwater,” said Rawajati resident Wakiah, 48, while joining her neighbors to clean the road in front of their houses from mud. “Well, I am used to it, so I don’t feel afraid or panic.”

Wakiah said that after the warning, her family immediately put things like clothes and the television on the second floor of her relative’s house next door.

Several neighborhoods near rivers in Jakarta are often affected by flooding during the rainy season by water coming from the upstream area of Bogor, West Java. On Sunday and Monday, Jakarta was relatively dry but heavy rains poured down in Bogor.

Jakarta Disaster Mitigation Agency (BPBD) spokesperson Bambang Surya Putra said that on Sunday evening, the officials put Jakarta on alert because water levels continued to rise at Bogor’s Katulampa sluice gate, which is the vital benchmark of possible flooding in Jakarta.

According to him, the water rose to 210 centimeters overnight following heavy rain in Bogor and as a result, nine areas along the Ciliwung river were inundated. The areas were Cililitan, Kampung Melayu, Bidara Cina, Cawang, Buaran Tengah, Kampung Gedong — all in East Jakarta, as well as Pasar Minggu, Rawa Jati and Kebon Baru in South Jakarta.

In Rawajati, the water level reached 1.5 meters, Wakiah said, while showing the high water mark on her neighbor’s wall. The flooding was still far less severe than that seen in 2013 she added, in which the water level reached 3 meters.

Nurhayati from Kampung Pulo, Kampung Melayu, also said that Monday’s water level was not as high as 2013, when flooding almost submerged her two-story house.

She said the water started flooding her house at around 2 a.m. and kept rising until it reached almost two meters — or as high as the first floor of most houses in the neighborhood.

Like Wakiah, she said that her family was used to flooding and did not panic after receiving the flood alert on Sunday evening via mobile phone messages and an announcement from the nearest mosque.

She went on to say that her family and others in the neighborhood started to move important belongings to the second floor, as well as moving vehicles to the nearest parking lots outside the flood risk area.

She added that they also saved some water and bought candles to anticipate a blackout.

As the floods had already come, her family activities — such as cooking and washing clothes — would be concentrated on the second floor until 2016, she added.

“We will keep our belongings on the second floor until the rainy season ends in 2016. We never know when the floods will come again,” Nurhayati said in front of her house, where a number of cockroaches crawled over the front wall as floodwaters still covered the ground.

Jakarta Water Management Agency head Tri Djoko Sri Margianto claimed the high level of solid waste in the Ciliwung river was one of the main causes of the flooding. He said waste had clogged several areas of the river and hampered the flow of water.

According to him, the Kalibata area in South Jakarta was an example of how a modern system of garbage dredging needed to be applied.

“Just look under Kalibata Bridge, there is a lot of waste stuck in the river. Kalibata should have a garbage dredging system like the one in Manggarai [South Jakarta],” he said.

He explained that the Ciliwung river normalization process would be completed in December 2016 and that he was upbeat that flooding would be reduced once the project was finished.

Jakarta Governor Basuki “Ahok” Tjahaja Purnama said sheet piles used by his administration had successfully protected a number of flood-prone areas.

“However, there are also places like Kampung Pulo that are yet to be covered by sheet pile. Therefore, those areas are still inundated by floodwater,” he continued. (agn)

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Indonesian govt ministers at odds over peatland haze policies


Divisions have started to appear between Indonesian government ministries over how to tackle peatland fires that have caused choking smoke to spread across much of Southeast Asia.

Indonesia and the wider Southeast Asian region have been suffering for weeks from so-called "haze" caused by smouldering forest and peatland fires, largely in Sumatra and Borneo islands that climate officials described as a crime against humanity.

Green groups welcomed the Indonesia's environment and forestry ministry's decision late last month to review laws that allow smallholder farmers to burn. It has also asked plantation firms to halt peatland conversion, restore burnt areas, while banning planting on burnt peatland.

Contradicting this, however, Agriculture Minister Amran Sulaiman said on Monday, 100,000 hectares of burnt peatland in Kalimantan may now be used to plant corn and soybeans, according to Kontan newspaper.

"We will ask for peatland that has already been burned to be converted into agricultural land," Sulaiman was quoted in the newspaper, adding that the development should be led by local people and state-owned enterprises.

Sumardjo Gatot Irianto, director general of agriculture tools and infrastructure in the agriculture ministry, said on Tuesday he was not aware of any plan to plant on burnt peatlands in Kalimantan.

But Greenpeace Indonesia told Reuters it was concerned about Sulaiman's comments and urged President Joko Widodo to stick to his moratorium on developing peatlands and avert fires next year.

"We strongly support the (peatlands) commitment by the president," said Teguh Surya, forest campaigner at the environmental group. "The president has to call the minister of agriculture to stop the plan to plant corn."

Last week, a smallholder palm oil group said that forest fires would again flare up next year because the government was yet to issue any new regulations relating to forest clearing.

Indonesia is home to the world's third-largest tropical forest and Widodo is due to attend the U.N. climate summit in Paris in December where he is expected to outline the country's pledges for tackling climate change.

The Southeast Asian nation is the world's fifth-largest emitter of greenhouse gases mainly due to the "slash and burn" techniques to clear forests that blanket Singapore, Malaysia and northern Indonesia in a choking "haze" for months each year.

(Additional reporting by Kanupriya Kapoor; Editing by Sanjeev Miglani)

Government Draws Up Blueprint for Restoration of Peat Forests
Basten Gokkon Jakarta Globe 17 Nov 15;

Jakarta. The Environment and Forestry Ministry plans to complete Indonesia’s landmark blueprint for nationwide restoration of burned peat areas as part of the government’s mitigation and prevention efforts following the worst fires in recent memory.

“My office is taking on the biggest task in forming the framework [for peat restoration] and I will try to finish it in the next two or three days so I can discuss it with the National Development Planning Agency [Bappenas] and the chief economics minister,” Environment Minister Siti Nurbaya Bakar told reporters at a discussion in Jakarta on Tuesday.

The restoration plan, which is set for the next five years, will include a map showing all peat ecosystems, delineated into conservation or agricultural zones. It also establishes a peatland management task force to build and monitor canals to restore water to peat areas, and draws up technical guidelines for cultivation in peat areas to prevent damaging the carbon-rich soil.

Although the plan has not yet been finalized, Siti said the government had already commenced restoration efforts in four locations badly hit by the forest fires this year: Meranti district in Riau province, Ogan Komerling Ilir and Musi Banyuasin in South Sumatra, and Pulang Pisau district in Central Kalimantan.

M.R. Karliansyah, the Environment Ministry’s director general for environment pollution and damage control, said the government’s restoration efforts would take place largely on burned peat areas for conservation, which account for some 141,000 hectares of the 1.7 million hectares of burned area in the country as of Sept. 30.

“We want to focus heavily on restoring the water-rich peat domes in order to reduce the possibility of them catching fire,” Karliansyah said.

Asked about funding for the peat restoration efforts, Siti said the bulk of it would come from the state budget, with the rest coming from commitments by foreign countries and organizations.

She added that four parties had pledged to support the government’s peat restoration efforts, including the United States, Norway and the World Bank.

“The efforts will be conducted by the central government, not regional ones. So people shouldn’t worry about transparency or corruption,” she said.

Indonesia recorded one of its worst fire seasons this year, with daily carbon dioxide emissions from the forest fires alone exceeding the total emissions from US economic activity on several days.

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Indonesia urges international community to recognize scale of illegal fishing

Tama Salim, The Jakarta Post 17 Nov 15;

Maritime Affairs and Fisheries Minister Susi Pudjiastuti has called on the international community to recognize the practice of illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing as a form of transnational organized crime (TOC).

Susi said the recognition would ensure governments had better access to the tools needed to implement cooperation initiatives leading to the eventual eradication of IUU fishing.

According to the minister, it is high time the world acknowledged that IUU fishing practices are often used as a vehicle for other extraordinary crimes.

She said the IUU fishing prevention task force had discovered this after conducting an 11-month compliance audit on large foreign-built fishing vessels registered in the country.

“During the Anev [analysis and evaluation audit] we found out that fisheries crime isn’t only about stealing fish, but about many other crimes that use IUU fishing as a vehicle,” Susi said during her keynote speech at the Second International Environmental Compliance and Enforcement Conference in Singapore, on Monday.

She revealed that 80 percent of the large-scale drug rings that had been broken in the country involved the use of fishing vessels and that large cargo ships were often used for human trafficking and exporting endangered species.

“IUU fishing distorts good governance and jeopardizes economic growth,” she claimed.

Since the beginning of her tenure as minister, Susi has taken drastic measures to reform Indonesia’s fisheries sector. She has introduced a moratorium on all foreign-built fishing vessels, enabling the ministry to review 1,132 fishing permits and ascertain whether they are subject to misuse.

The audit found that all 1,132 fishing vessels had in some way violated the applicable laws and regulations, with the most common violation being license duplication.

As a result, the ministry has revoked 291 permits, suspended 61 and issued notices for another 95 licenses.

Susi spoke at Monday’s conference, hosted by Interpol and the UN Environmental Programme (UNEP), to get like-minded countries to endorse her cause in recognizing IUU fishing as a TOC and raise awareness about the link between fisheries crime and other related crimes.

She pledged to promote the initiative at other international and regional forums, including ASEAN and the Indian Ocean Rim Association (IORA).

On the sidelines of the conference, Susi secured the support of South Africa in a bilateral meeting with South African Environmental Affairs Minister Bomo Edna Molewa, adding that she would continue to urge other states to join the cause.

As the new chair of the IORA, Indonesia has the opportunity to further its ambitious maritime axis plan by becoming the leading proponent of maritime safety and security.

Separately, Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P) lawmaker Ono Surono from House of Representatives Commission IV overseeing forestry and fisheries supported Susi’s bid to have the international community recognize IUU fishing as a transnational crime.

Ono urged Susi to speak with countries whose fishing vessels and seamen were guilty of IUU fishing practices, such as China, the Philippines, Thailand, Malaysia and Vietnam.

“If possible, an anti-IUU fishing task force should be formed comprising Indonesia and states that share the country’s borders,” he told the The Jakarta Post.

Ministry claims success in fight against fish poaching
Antara 18 Nov 15;

Jakarta (ANTARA News) - The Ministry of Marine Affairs and Fisheries claimed that its focused efforts on curbing illegal fishing practices have significantly reduced fish poaching.

"Over the past year, the fight against illegal, unreported, unregulated (IUU) fishing has been a major success," Nilanto Perbowo, the director general for competitive edge reinforcement of marine and fisheries products, stated at a press conference here on Wednesday.

He pointed out that the biggest impact of the fight against IUU fishing was the success achieved by the Ministry of Marine Affairs and Fisheries in eliminating fish theft by foreign vessels, which often operated in the Indonesian waters.

The disappearance of foreign fishing vessels could benefit traditional fishermen in various regions. They can easily fish now than in the past. At the same time, the government, through the marine affairs and fisheries ministry, could ensure the availability of the nations fish stocks and ways to optimally exploit their potential.

Earlier this month, Marine Affairs and Fisheries Minister Susi Pudjiastuti stated that the task force meant to prevent illegal fishing will focus on the border regions.

"There are five regions highly prone to illegal fishing," the Marine Affairs and Fisheries Ministrys press release quoted Minister Pudjiastuti as saying on Tuesday (Nov. 3).

The five regions are the Malacca Strait, Natuna Sea or the South China Sea, the waters in the north of Sulawesi and Kalimantan, Arafuru Sea, and the sea in the south of Java or the Indian Ocean.

Meanwhile, on Monday (Nov. 2), Indonesias task force, meant to keep a check on IUU fishing, held its first coordination meeting at the maritime affairs and fisheries ministry here.

The meeting was presided over by Maritime Affairs and Fisheries Minister Pudjiastuti in her capacity as commander of the IUU fishing task force.

The task force was established in accordance with Presidential Regulation No. 115 of 2015, appointing Minister Pudjiastuti as chief and the deputy chief of staff of the Navy as executive chairman.

The head of the maritime security agency (Bakamla), the head of the Security Maintenance Agency (Baharkam) of the National Police, and the general crime attorney are the task forces deputy executive chairmen.

The new body has the authority to coordinate efforts among various institutions in the fight against illegal fishing activities that have inflicted losses worth Rp300 trillion annually on the state.

Indonesia has incurred material losses and environmental damage due to illegal fishing activities, mostly conducted by foreign fishing boats in its maritime territory.

Therefore, Indonesia has vowed to impose stringent sanctions against the perpetrators of such crimes to serve as a deterrent to other poachers.

This year alone, until mid-October, the Indonesian authorities have sunk at least 91 foreign fishing ships caught poaching in the Indonesian waters as the fight against illegal fishing in its maritime territory continues.(*)

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Natural disaster response centre could expand scope beyond ASEAN

Regional governments’ responses to future natural disasters outside of Southeast Asia, or even human disasters, could eventually be facilitated by ASEAN’s response centre in Jakarta.
Saifulbahri Ismail Channel NewsAsia 17 Nov 15;

JAKARTA: Regional governments’ responses to future natural disasters outside of Southeast Asia, or even human disasters, could eventually be facilitated by ASEAN’s response centre in Jakarta.

The ASEAN Coordinating Centre for Humanitarian Assistance on disaster management (AHA) is currently tasked with facilitating cooperation and coordination among member states in the event of natural disasters and is involved in monitoring phenomena such as typhoons, floods and volcanic activity.

But the mandate of the AHA Centre could be expanded, as ASEAN strives to become a more integrated community by the end of this year, according to centre’s executive director, Said Faisal.

“The mechanism is in place for crisis, the mechanism has been tested and can be easily expanded to the needs of ASEAN,” he said.

“Whether there will be an expansion of the role of the AHA Centre from only the natural disaster, maybe beyond from only the ASEAN region. This can be expanded. I believe this will be done in stages.”

The crash of AirAsia QZ8501 in Indonesia waters in December 2014, is a reminder of how ASEAN countries can work together in times of adversity. Two Southeast Asian countries - Malaysia and Singapore - were part of the international effort led by Indonesia to respond to the disaster.

In the future it is possible such missions could come under AHA’s scope.

Early next year, the AHA Centre will move to a new location, sharing the same building with Indonesia’s National Disaster Management Agency (BPNB).

Mr Said said that being physically closer to BNPB will enhance the centre’s cooperation and coordination with the government on disaster management.

Besides the AHA Centre, there is also the ASEAN Coordinating Centre for Transboundary Haze Pollution Control, which is designed to help Southeast Asian countries work together to manage the impact of land and forest fires.

Indonesia is expected to take over the running of this centre from the ASEAN Secretariat, with ASEAN recently in the spotlight for its lack of response in dealing with this year’s haze crisis, the worst on record.

“We need to strengthen, in fact intensify, efforts among the Asean countries to try to make sure that the centre will be well equipped to respond, whether in terms of scientific information, manpower, expertise, but also coordination to get the countries involved to really have some kind of stand-by arrangement and to have preparedness,” said Vongthep Arthakaivalvatee, the deputy secretary-general of the ASEAN Socio-Cultural Community Department.

- CNA/jb

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To tackle environment crime, take action: Experts

Tackling environmental crime is no longer about coming up with resolutions, but about taking action, say experts at an INTERPOL-United Nations Environment Programme conference.
Liyana Othman Channel NewsAsia 18 Nov 15;

SINGAPORE: Tackling environmental crime is no longer about coming up with resolutions, but about taking action, said experts at the 2nd INTERPOL-United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) Environmental Compliance and Enforcement Conference on Tuesday (Nov 17).

Issues like illegal wildlife trade and waste management, especially electronic waste, were high on the agenda.

In 2014, 41.8 million tonnes of e-waste was generated worldwide, and this amount is set to grow, along with developments in science and technology. By the year 2030, the amount of e-waste generated by developing countries will hit 400 to 700 million units, taking over that of developed countries at 200 to 300 million units, according to experts.

Forestry crime was also discussed. In response to queries about illegal forest fires in Indonesia and the haze that resulted from them, UNEP’s regional director for Asia Pacific Mr Kaveh Zahedi said that it is a problem that has yet to be tackled.

He added that the United Nations fully supports ASEAN countries which have pledged to go haze-free by 2020.

Mr Zahedi echoed sentiments that while there are legislations in place, enforcement and implementation is key.

“I think over the years, there has been a gap in government responses to ensure there is appropriate law enforcement responses to the overall security of our environment. So what we're trying to do is stimulate a greater focus on law enforcement, and in particular, investigative responses,” said Mr David Higgins, Head of the INTERPOL’s Environmental Security Programme.

The conference was organised by international police body INTERPOL and UNEP.

- CNA/dl

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